NORTH COLLINS, N.Y. (WIVB)–Ten years ago on January 21, 2010 authorities were called to a house in North Collins and opened the door to one of the most gruesome murder cases in recent years Erie County.
Laura Cummings, a 23-year-old woman with physical and intellectual challenges had been brutalized, tortured, and murdered by her own family members.
Cummings’ mother and half-brother would eventually be found guilty of turning the young woman’s life into a living hell inside the family’s apartment on Sherman Avenue in the Village of North Collins, and it would lead neighbors, government agencies, and law enforcement to ask whether they had could have done more to protect her.
The Sherman Avenue resident had been tortured, beaten, and sexually assaulted over a period of years, but Laura’s brother Richard Cummings said he and others had alerted authorities to the domestic brutality long before Laura’s violent end.
“Told them you need to really investigate this because I know there is something going on it that house, and they just would not do anything.”
Laura’s mother Eva Cummings admitted killing her daughter with her bare hands and she is now serving a sentence of 52-years to life in prison for second degree murder.
Cummings’ half-brother Luke Wright was convicted of rape, sexual assault and sodomy, and he is doing 40 years to life.
With her documented severe intellectual challenges, Buffalo attorney Terry Connors said a number of agencies had a duty to protect Cummings.
“If the agencies had intervened properly, just done their job like they were supposed to do, that it would have saved her life–certainly saved her from the torture and physical and sexual abuse that she endured.”
Connors has filed a lawsuit against Erie County–specifically the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Social Services–on behalf of Laura Cummings’ estate, which includes Cummings’ siblings.
The estate’s lawyer points to Laura’s supervision by Child Protection Services when she was younger, and Adult Protection Services, as an adult, accusing both agencies of dropping the ball.
“Both of them had an opportunity to follow up and do the kind of investigation that is mandated by their own policies and procedures. Had that been done Laura would still be here.”
Over nearly 10 years the lawsuit has been pending, a state judge dismissed the Cummings litigation, but it was later reinstated on appeal.
The Erie County administration declined comment for this story, citing the pending litigation. So far News 4 has not heard back from the Sheriff’s Office. The lawsuit is scheduled for trial in May.